Mexico: Resistance to Construction of 112 Dams in Veracruz

from Radio Mundo Real

"They are going to flood us," fear the inhabitants that protested the dam. Photo: AVC Noticias

“They are going to flood us,” fear the inhabitants that protested the dam. Photo: AVC Noticias

In Veracruz, Mexico, there are plans to build 112 dams and 6 hydroelectric power plants without authorization by communities, who in past weeks have mobilized in different municipalities of La Antigua River basin and managed to get the government to intervene through an inspection of Odebrecht construction company, whose works could cause flooding in several territories.

In addition to not having authorization from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), La Antigua dams will be built in an area where there is a seismic fault; therefore, it would be a time bomb for the communities living by La Antigua River and other tributaries.

Four years ago, the inhabitants of the region gained access to documents expressing the intention to building these dams by the Brazilian multinational construction company, although they did not obtain information from official sources.

Even today, with the company established in the area and carrying out exploration activities, which have already accumulated materials by the riverbed, risking the population of Jalcomulco, Apazapan, La Antigua, Paso de Ovejas, Emiliano Zapata, Teocelo, Xico and Ixhuacán de los Reyes, totaling 1.2 million people, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (SEMARNAT) of the Mexican Union stated that “there is no project” since there hasn’t been a request for an environmental impact assessment.

However, on January 20 the communities started blocking roads to get the attention of authorities, reports Emilio Rodriguez, of the Veracruz Assembly of Initiatives and Environmental Defense (LAVIDA), in an interview with Monica Montalvo, member of Hijxs de la Tierra group and our correspondent in Mexico.

The economy of coastal communities of La Antigua is mainly agricultural, fisheries and eco-tourism with a diversity of crops and an abundance of water that provides them a good quality of life, according to some of the members of the resistance who were consulted. “I would give my life for the river,” said another participant in the resistance.

“For the basin communities there won’t be any benefits. Only a small group of people will benefit—the political system, and the company. If it came all the way from Brazil, it is because there is profit to be made here,” said one of the participants of the blockades that prevented Odebrecht from accessing the works.

The road blockade was implemented because 80 days have passed without Odebrecht carrying out the impact assessment studies in the field known as Tamarindo, as well as to break with the indifference of government authorities. After a nine-hour road blockade  on the Jalapa-Veracruz federal road, the Veracruz state government asked to meet with the organizations.

Later, the state authorities sent an inspection team who certified irregularities by the construction company and gave orders to remove the rock materials that had appeared in the middle of the riverbed.

In addition to the eight municipal capital cities, there are 42 communities that will be affected by the dam which Odebrecht plans to build. According to digital media from Veracruz state, the peasants—community owners of the lands (according to the agrarian reform of the beginning of the 20th century in Mexico)—are resisting their lands being flooded by the dam.

“They want us to respect the laws, but they don’t respect our lands. The worst thing is that they are profiting from our lands and they didn’t even consult us first”, said peasant Jorge de Tlaltetela.

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